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Enrichment: Supporting the Human-Animal Bond

By Suzanne Denk, CSB-C, Dip.FBST, Animal Enrichment Specialist

Enrichment activities are often looked at as a way to occupy your pet while you’re at work or busy with other chores outside the house. A Kong for a dog, pellets rolled up in newspaper for a rabbit or hiding toy mice for a cat are all great activities to offer when your pet is alone. But the goal should be for your pet to sleep while you are away so that you can enjoy enrichment activities together.

Many pets are crepuscular, which means they are most active at dawn or dusk, which is perfect for the traditional workday. When you come home from work, your dog will be ready to go for a sniffing walk; your rabbit ready to explore and binky, and your cat ready for interactive play with a teaser wand toy. We might be tired at the end of the day, but it only takes a few minutes to give your beloved pet some attention with enrichment.

Pets are our companions, and providing an enrichment activity is the perfect way to spend time together.

Choose a puzzle or game and sit on the floor with your pet while they discover treats in the puzzle or investigate the activity. Be sure to watch their body language to determine if they are relaxed and having fun or if they are tense and frustrated. By engaging with your pet instead of just occupying them, you can help them with the puzzle or praise them for their good work.

An activity does not have to be hard or take a long time to be enriching. You can repeat an activity several times if your pet enjoys it. And in time, your pet will begin to anticipate this special time together.

Enrichment activities are opportunities to spend valuable time with your pet and build a bond. As you see them having fun, your love and bond grows. Their quality of life, and how interesting and engaging it is, depends on us! Spending time each day with your pet increases the human-animal bond for a lifetime.

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